It’s amazing to think how far the Lexus GS has come in a relatively short amount of time. When it was first introduced in 1993, the car was, unbeknownst to most, what you could consider special, as the GS 300’s lineage comes from one of Toyota’s greatest platforms, the Supra, and subsequently, was also derived from one of its Lexus brethren, the SC 400, sharing many things like suspension design and drivetrain. Of course, some of you know it more as an Aristo in JDM lingo, and for those of you really in the know, the way a 2JZ engine fits in the bay is more than just “really cool shit”—it’s sublime and perfect. Even the second gen GS became a popular car fit for engine conversions (more so in the US), drifting and bippu, maybe more so in Japan as drivers like Manabu Orido commissioned an Aristo himself for competition.
Skip ahead a couple decades and look what’s happened. The GS has matured. Over the years, it’s stood strong as the car the suave and stylish kids gravitated towards when the VIP craze took off. You might even be surprised to discover that the GS was the basis for Lexus developing its IS series of cars. Engine swapped or not, you put one on bags—or just slam it, period—and stuff a set of big, fat-lipped wheels on and you can call it a day. No crazy wings, paint jobs or fluff needed. But with the later versions, starting with the S190 chassis (’05-12), Lexus offered up an entirely new chassis with an engine unique to itself; no super crazy Japanese variant to swap in, but it could still get down to the floor and rock a mean set of wheels.
Now you’re being introduced to a new redesign and up to the GS 350 model, and let me tell you, Lexus isn’t f’ing around. Attacking the Mid-Luxury segment at full speed, the GS represents a new generation of Lexus vehicles. You’ll notice this most with the styling; it’s bold, aggressive and matches well with other platforms, like the IS and LFA. The front grill found on the GS is the first of many upcoming Lexus releases that will sport the same design. But just look at that mean front end; it’s all things aerodynamic and then some, plus it matches perfectly with the LED headlights, a styling trend that has become so popular in recent years. But the back end is very Euro, simplistic in nature; you might not know you were chasing a Lexus down until catching up to it. Just picture one dropped low with a set of concave TEs or BBS LMs…
But the GS is so much more of a complete package than just being a looker. It isn’t a speedster, but it isn’t slow. It’s easy to control, but it can hold its own when it comes to handling. My initial drives with the GS are with its AWD and F SPORT configurations, the F SPORT clearly being the most fun to drive of all the GS models. Not only does it come with a retuned suspension (courtesy of firmer springs, thicker anti-sway bars and stiffer bushings), it also comes equipped with an Adaptive Variable Damping system, or AVS, that adjusts damping force based on the types of roads you travel on and your driving characteristics. When the car’s pitched, the damping force is increased to help keep the ride’s composure; as it’s cornering, the damping force also becomes higher to improve handling and stability. This may not be the type of thing you want to mess with, especially if you think air bags are in the works. However, a F SPORT-equipped GS does come with an extra Drive Mode selection, SPORT S+, which adds even more damping force over the SPORT S mode available in the base model GS. And you know what that means: stiff riding, if you’re into that sort of thing (those riding in the back, maybe not so much), which you probably are if you’re into cars with upgraded suspensions. But the Normal and SPORT S modes are more than capable of providing a comfortable drive for everyday maneuvering, especially if you opt for the AWD model; it made for an effortless experience in twisty areas of pavement.
Power-wise, the GS comes with a new 2GR-FSE 3.5L V6 engine featuring Dual VVT-I variable valve timing and can pump out 306hp and 277lb-ft. Sounds like pretty standard equipment to us, but a couple interesting notes to mention here: the intake comes with a Sound Creator, a damper attached to the intake hose that amplifies intake resonance in various frequencies at mid-to-high rpm, providing that ‘oomph’ as you power down on the gas pedal. On gasoline models, you get a Sport muffler as well, which helps to produce a more sporty sound at low rpm and is more free-flowing than the previous GS exhaust. The drivetrain sees many notable comparisons to and features from the IS F as the 6-speed sequential shift automatic transmission aids the driver by providing quicker shifts and blipping downshift control. Shifting is wicked smooth—whether going up or down—when using the paddle shifters, something I felt was a little bit rougher on the IS. There aren’t any optional power adders available (damn), but anyone who does pick up the F SPORT model will get larger front brakes (equipped with 14" rotors and single 4-piston calipers), staggered 19x8" and 19x9" wheels, Dynamic Handling with Variable Gear Ratio Steering (VGRS; RWD model only), a 16-way power sport driver’s seat and F SPORT interior accents and front fender badges.
Whether or not the new GS makes its way into various tuning houses across Japan and the US remains to be seen, but I did ask Toyota exec, Katsuhiko Koganei if the IS F’s engine could be swapped in and was met with the silent treatment followed by a mischievous smile. Perhaps there’s a GS F in the works? I can only hope that one’s on the way. Besides, it’s not like they said, “No.” Maybe only then will the new GS pick up where the original left off—the engine swapping and such—leaving plenty of room for potential in the years to come.
That New Car Smell
2013 Lexus GS 350
The Sticker TBA
Engine 2GR-FSE 3.5L V6
The Power 306hp at 6,400rpm; 277lb-ft at 4,800rpm
Scale Tipping 3,795lbs; 3,980lbs (AWD)
Layout Front engine, rear-wheel-drive (all-wheel-drive optional)
Transmission six-speed sequential-shift with paddle shifters
Footwork & Chassis Double wishbone front with high-mount upper arms, coil springs, gas-filled shock absorbers and stabilizer bar; multi-link rear with coil springs, gas-filled shock absorbers and stabilizer bar; Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) with driver-selectable shock absorber damping (optional on GS 350 AWD/RWD, standard on available F SPORT and Luxury packages)
Wheels & Tires 17x7.5" (standard) with 225/50R17 tires; 18x8" (optional) with 235/45R18 tires; 19x8/19x9" (F SPORT package) with 235/40R19 and 265/35R19 summer tires; 235/40R19 (optional) rear all summer tires (AWD)
At The Pump 19/28/23 (city/highway/combined mpg) (RWD); 19/26/21 (AWD)
The Competition BMW 5-series, Mercedes Benz E Class, Audi A6
Deep Thoughts While this isn’t a direct descendent of the Supra like the GS models before it, we are wildly interested to see if a GS F version will make its way out of our dreams—or if that’s not the case, then how do we get an IS F engine in there?!